Tuesday, 31 August 2010

An Introduction to Rural Wife!

Cut and bruised we have returned from winter preparations at the apartment we'll be moving to sometime over the next month or so. I once learned to chop wood – and even got paid to do so – but that was more than two decades ago. Rowan had never wielded an ax in anger! Neither of us cut the wood pictured here. We bought it pre-chopped. However, as is the way here, it was all just dumped in the street outside the building and we had to stack it neatly in a dry place.



The wood is destined for the hot place pictured to the right of the ageing Electrolux cooker. That's our new stove. It'll serve as the main source of heat for us this winter. The fancy looking contraption that looks like a boy racer's exhaust should, we're told help it to chuck out a bit more heat. While I might know how to chop a log or two I have to confess my fire-starting skills are distinctly less developed. Okay, so I'm suddenly remembering a spot of petrol-assisted bonfire starting and if barbecues count then obviously I'm not entirely without experience. There is something enticing primal about the need to master the art of starting fire - watch out, I'll be inventing wheels next!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Have your cake and leave it!

Just less than two years since we arrived in Mostar we have worked our last evening at Klub Novi Most. I don't think it's quite sunk in yet. The summer's been a busy time – perhaps evidence by the very sporadic blog posting! - so although we've known for a while that we'll be moving on to a new project with Novi Most in the autumn we've not had the down-time to let leaving really sink in. There were a few tears tonight as me, Rowan and Budo (all pictured on the leaving cake on the left!) were given a very fitting send off by the young people and our other team members in Klub.


Two years have flown by or at least it feels like that tonight. I might have said different if you'd asked me in the middle of Mostar's long, rainy winter! We've seen a lot and been part of a lot. Hopefully we've help a bit along the way. Time will tell. A couple of years from now perhaps we'll be able to look back with greater perspective and see how our positive contributions in Mostar have grown, and see the successful establishing of our new project taking shape. Despite the fact we will miss people in Mostar we know it's time to move onto the next thing. There are fresh challenges ahead and new opportunities waiting to be explored. I once wrote: you get the story when you go. We're off to get the next bit. WeDoAdventure!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Here's to Angelina!

I caught some friends cheering 'Angie, Angie' at the television the other day. Their excitement was caused by the footage of Angelina Jolie at a Bosnian airport playing out on a local news programme. (You'll forgive me for not noting whether she was coming or going at the time!) I wasn't particularly paying attention so I didn't catch what the story was and I would have forgotten all about it had I not stumbled across this article in The Guardian online this morning.


It's great that the actress otherwise known as Mrs Pitt wants to film her first full directorial debut in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Good news too that it'll provide opportunities for local cast and crew. The attention of a Hollywood A-lister in a country that gets to export little of its culture to the Western world is undoubtedly a welcome thing. The film will tell the tale of a Bosnian woman falling for a Serbian military man. Jolie is quoted as saying, "The film is a love story, not a political statement." But perhaps a story of love that sees past ethnic prejudices is inescapably a statement in a country whose politics so often remains entrenched in them. Statement or not, let's hope it encourages all that is best about Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Not a good picture!

"That won't make a good picture" warned my wife as I reached for the camera. She may well be right. But I have soft spot of the venerable Lada Niva. Spotting two of them, identically coloured, alone in an otherwise empty car park somewhere in central Bosnia was too much temptation.

I have a friend who tells me horror stories about how their oil (or it could be fuel) consumption grows with age every time I say anything approaching complimentary about these stalwarts of Soviet design. He wants to ensure I never succumb to my irrational attraction and enter into any kind of long-term relationship with the vehicle.

And so, for better or for worse, I will continue my quiet admiration from a discreet distance.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Step up to the microphone!

This was the view that greeted me on Thursday night. A mic, some mountains and an audience gathered for an evening of music. Under the wooden beams of this barn-like building the tea-lights flickering on the tables created a beautiful, mellow atmosphere shattered only by the crashing drums, pounding bass and screaming guitar of our punk rock three piece.

Our set blended well known covers in equal numbers with original material. To my mind people jumped and cheered in all the right places, and for that I'm very grateful. I know singing English-language rock songs carries an element of risk in a situation where many in the audience know little of the language. In my defence, I'm still relatively new to the lead singing game and while I may yet learn to sing in another language I would be happier still to know I inspired someone here to step up the microphone. There's a huge satisfaction in helping others achieve their musical dreams: I saw it with plenty of young people in the UK, now it's time to see it in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Hopefully this gig will prove to be a big step right direction.

[We've just put the first Gilgal demo recordings online as free downloads!]